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Frontline report: Russians push further north near Avdiivka despite mounting losses

After failing to take Ukrainian forces into a pocket, Russian forces resorted to bombing their way through the settlement.
Ukrainian forces destroy Russian tank with a Javelin north of Avdiivka. Screenshot from the video
Frontline report: Russians push further north near Avdiivka despite mounting losses

In the Avdiivka direction, Ukrainians executed a fighting withdrawal in order to prevent their forces from being taken into a pocket. The main objective of the Russian offensive operation to the north is to advance toward the Ukrainian city of Kostyantynivka, linking up with their offensive operation near Chasiv-Yar. The secondary goal of this operation is to take the Ukrainian forces in New York into a pocket by cutting them off from their supply lines.

For Russians to reach Kostyantynivka from the south, they must first pass over several strategic heights, which are all under Ukrainian control. The eastmost heights are the most important in this direction, as they simultaneously guard the western flank of the Ukrainian defenses in New York. They also allow the Ukrainians to make constant flanking attacks on the Russian bridgehead and logistics to the south. This makes the Ukrainian settlement of Novokalynove of high tactical and operational value to both Ukrainian and Russian armed forces, as it is situated at the source of the Kalynivka River, linking the two heights together.

Russians recently executed a large attack in this direction, capturing the eastern roads of the settlement. This quickly became an increasingly difficult situation for the defending Ukrainian soldiers, as the Russians were threatening to take them into a pocket. Ukrainian forces realized this and started a controlled withdrawal from the settlement. However, Russian forces intensified their attacks on the settlement in an attempt to catch the Ukrainians in their process of withdrawal.

Ukrainians shared geolocated footage of a group of 20 Russian soldiers attempting to take up positions in a manor in the northern part of the settlement. Unfortunately for Russians, this assault group was quickly spotted by a Ukrainian observation drone. Ukrainian forces then quickly dispatched a tank to the location, which then took up position and opened fire on the occupied manor, destroying the Russian assault group inside.

Russian military bloggers stated that Ukrainians were constantly targeting such Russian assault groups with tanks and counterattacks, not allowing them to advance.

The settlement of Novokalynove is situated in the lowlands. Consequently, a Russian blogger stated that after taking control over the eastern part of the settlement, Ukrainians used their terrain advantage on which they had established many fortifications to halt the Russian advance, stating that the situation had become very difficult for the Russian offensive. On top of that, Ukrainian forces continued their strikes on Russian logistics, as we discussed in the last report.

The Ukrainian 23rd mechanized brigade shared geolocated footage of them destroying a group of Russian infantry with artillery south of Novokalynove. Furthermore, drone operators of the 23rd Brigade identified a gathering place for Russian infantry near a railway bridge, from where they would continue to conduct their attacks. The drone operators then shared geolocated footage of them engaging Russian infantry at this railway bridge and then repeating these attacks as new Russian assault groups arrived at this position.

Additionally, Ukrainian sources shared footage of them finishing off a Russian armored vehicle with a javelin anti-tank missile while another destroyed Russian vehicle is seen in the background. Due to the strikes on Russian infantry, the Ukrainians’ use of the terrain to their advantage, and the constant Ukrainian counterattacks, Russian forces were unable to develop their breakthrough further and close the pocket around the Ukrainian defenders. In desperation, Russian forces then resorted to bombing their way through the settlement. Russian sources released geolocated footage of them attacking Ukrainian-held positions with artillery and FAB glide bombs. A Russian military blogger stated that such attacks were being carried out day and night to completely undermine the Ukrainian defense. However, the Ukrainian goal of temporarily holding the Russians in place had been accomplished,  and Ukrainian forces had largely withdrawn from the settlement.

After Ukrainians had pulled back to the north, Russians took control over the rest of Novokalynove and started pushing into the adjacent settlement of Keramik.

A Ukrainian military blogger stated that  Russians do not seem to be moving according to expectations. Russians are focusing their offensive efforts on advancing north toward Kostyantynivka instead of pressuring the Ukrainian flanks of the defensive line to the west. The Institute for the Study of War stated that Russians seem to be stabilizing their salient north of Avdiivka. This could cause  Ukrainians to decide to withdraw from other tactical positions entirely and move to a more defensible line.

The British intelligence service recently stated that despite sustaining high losses, Russian forces are likely to continue to further target Ukrainian positions in the area. However, the Institute for the Study of War also stated that despite Russian forces making rapid tactical gains in the area, they would likely be unable to transform these into larger, operational significant successes. The primary reason why the Ukrainian defenses collapsed and the Russians were able to exploit their breakthrough was due to the Ukrainian shortage of artillery shells and delays in Western military aid. While Ukrainian drones can do a lot of damage to Russian advances and logistics, they are unable to completely substitute a large artillery barrage, which would turn any Russian salient into a kill zone.

Russians are also concentrating all available forces in this small region to further exploit this situation.  This has already resulted in a large amount of Russian losses, which are likely to skyrocket as Western military aid reaches the front. Overall, despite the Russians’ best efforts,  Ukrainian forces successfully held off the Russian attacks in the east, allowing their forces in the south of the settlement to make a controlled withdrawal.

The effectiveness of the Ukrainian delaying operation cannot be understated, as Russian military bloggers state that the only reason that Russians were able to push through the settlement was the constant artillery and air strikes on Ukrainian positions. Ukrainians are likely to withdraw from certain tactical positions to a more defensible line, while Western military aid will significantly improve Ukrainian defensive capabilities, allowing Ukrainians to stabilize the frontline and break the Russian offensive.

In our frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

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